Hon. S. D. Woods, a leading lawyer of the San Francisco bar and ex-congressman from the second California district, has also the distinction of being one of the pioneers to the state, having come among the original forty-niners during the days of his childhood. He has followed out a most able and honorable career, having established a solid reputation as a lawyer of integrity and unusual qualifications for his profession, and has acquitted himself well in all his relations as a private citizen and in public station.
Mr. Woods was born in Maury county, Tennessee, in 1845, a son of Rev. James and Eliza (Williams) Woods, the latter a daughter of a prominent South Carolinian. The history of the Presbyterian church in California could not be written without recording the prominent part taken in its establishment and organization by the late Rev. James Woods, one of the most conspicuous of those pioneer figures, who, in the face of many obstacles and the indifference of hurring commercialism and gain-seeking, sought to bring the power of religion to the new western seats of civilization and give to the church of the Pacific coast the same power and influence it had in the east. He was a descendant of a sturdy Welsh family that came to Massachusetts during the Puritan times. He had espoused the ministry as his profession, and in 1849 he was one of the three chosen by the Presbyterian church to go as missionaries and establish churches in the Eldorado of the west. He left New York with his wife and three children, on May 17, 1849, on the saling vessel Alice Tralton, which, on account of storms and head winds, was eight months in rounding the Horn and reaching San Francisco. He and his two fellow ministers formed the first presbytery of California, and he took a foremost part in all the church work of the state during those early days. He preached the first installation sermon in this state, was the first moderator of the synod on the Pacific coast, and he preached in every town in California. The first Presbyterian church of the state was organized by him. His ministerial labors were carried on in Stockton for many years, and his death occurred in 1882. His work entitled "Recollections of Pioneer Work in California" is one of the most interesting books dealing with the pioneer times of California and contains much valuable information from an historical standpoint.
Mr. S. D. Woods was reared in California, and after his common school training began the study of law with Hon. John Saterlee, the first superior judge of San Francisco. Since his admission to the bar he has risen rapidly to a front rank among the eminent jurists of the commonwealth, and at the same time he has given without stint his influence and untiring effort for the upbuilding and development of his state, in which he has done as much as any other man. He has organized and helped build a number of railroads, and is now counsel for the Sierra Railway Company of California.
Mr. Woods is a stanch Republican, but is in no sense a politician. In 1890 he was prevailed upon to accept the nomination to Congress from the second district, to fill out an unexpired term and a full term and in the face of a normal majority of six thousand for the opposite party was elected with twelve hundred votes to spare. He refused to become a candidate for election at the next congressional election.
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